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Time to head to the grocery stores?

Jason Samenow @ 1:43 AM

Wow. What a tough forecast. I mean it. None of the broadcast meteorologists committed to a forecast on the 11pm news. I will -- even if the uncertainty is high. A large amount of guidance suggests this will be a major winter storm for our area, especially the north and west suburbs.

I have looked at about 10 computer models (click on this link to see a half dozen of them, valid at 1pm Monday, with the rain/snow line drawn in in blue), analyzed trends and considered the opinions of a number of meteorologists from the team as well as from a number of talented meteorologists who post at the forum.

The bottom line is that I believe the storm now developing in the Gulf of Mexico will take a coastal (as opposed to inland) track, and produce moderate to heavy snow accumulations north and west of a line from Vienna, Va to Bethesda, Md. Moderate snow accumulations will fall inside the beltway, where the snow will mix with and change to sleet and/or rain before changing back to snow. I simply do not think an inland track, that would produce mostly rain, is likely given trends with the guidance (for a technical analysis I produced that demonstrates this, please click here.)

Snow should break out all across the entire area late Sunday night, and may become heavy rather quickly close to dawn. The Monday morning rush hour will be difficult. Snowfall rates may become quite high and isolated thundersnow cannot be ruled out. The warm ground, and high sun angle (coupled with temperatures not far below freezing) may reduce the impact on roads as with the last storm -- however, precipitation rates will likely be higher, so don't rule out difficult driving conditions.

Areas inside the beltway may mix with and change to sleet and/or rain mid to late morning. By late afternoon or early evening, all precipitation should change back to snow. Monday night, occasional (but mostly light) snow should continue with increasing winds and falling temperatures.

Here is my assessment (please understand, this is a FIRST CALL -- and uncertainty is HIGH. This will inevitably be adjusted.)

Overall storm assessment

Storm Impact:

Travelcast (for Monday):

Schoolcast (for Monday):

I will update this by noon Sunday. While I re-iterate uncertainty is high (for the third time), I am becoming more confident this will be a serious storm for at least parts of our area.

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